"By Faith, Noah being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith." Hebrews 11:7 (ESV)
Condemning the World
There is a clause in verse 7 that troubles many people. Most are OK with the idea that Noah had faith in God and was saved by the ark. But many struggle with the phrase that says “by this Noah condemned the world”. After all, Christians are specifically commanded not to judge, right?
Think of it this way. Pretend you lived during the 2nd century during the height of the Roman Empire. Abortion was practiced on a large scale. They had devised ways, even in that ancient time, of killing the child while it was still in the womb. Some times they would give birth but then leave the child in the city dump—either to be killed by exposure or by animals (this, as well as other methods of post-birth killing, was called infanticide). Chronologically, infanticide came earlier and was fully sanctioned by Roman law. In fact, to us the very word “infanticide” sounds evil, but the Romans looked on the term favorably. The male head of the household, called the pater familias, had power of life and death over his offspring. The moment the child was born he could have it either killed or allow it to live. He could tell his, either the wife or concubine after she conceived, either to abort or bring the child to term at birth.
Now imagine you are a Christian. Instead of killing your baby you begin to rescue them from the city dump. You urge other Romans to stop this murderous practice. These very actions warn as well as condemn. In a real sense, your whole life is a protest against an evil world. Noah condemned his world in the sense that he chose God while the world around him refused. As John Owen says, “he condemned it by his doctrine, by his obedience, by his example, by his faith”. The very presence of good exposes evil for what it is.
Pray that you live with such loving faithfulness that your very presence exposes the wretchedness and ugliness of evil.
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